What is Depression?

All year, I’ve shown you the problems facing Asia with mental health issues and I’ve done interviews with various individuals on the root of the problem and what actions can be taken. However, I’ve never really talked about the mental health problems themselves, until now.

Mayo Clinic defines depression, or major depressive disorder, as “a mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest.” They list symptoms such as:

  • Feelings of sadness, tearfulness, emptiness or hopelessness
  • Angry outbursts, irritability or frustration, even over small matters
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in most or all normal activities, such as sex, hobbies or sports
  • Sleep disturbances, including insomnia or sleeping too much
  • Tiredness and lack of energy, so even small tasks take extra effort
  • Reduced appetite and weight loss or increased cravings for food and weight gain
  • Anxiety, agitation or restlessness
  • Slowed thinking, speaking or body movements
  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt, fixating on past failures or self-blame
  • Trouble thinking, concentrating, making decisions and remembering things
  • Frequent or recurrent thoughts of death, suicidal thoughts, suicide attempts or suicide
  • Unexplained physical problems, such as back pain or headaches

It all sounds rather, well, clinical; pretty cut and dry. But depression cannot only be defined in a clinical fashion. Every person experiences depression differently; some may have symptoms from the above list while others may experience something completely different. How can we truly understand depression if we only accept it in bullet points? So what exactly is depression?

Depression is being the only one awake at 2:00 a.m. because the thoughts in your head are screaming so loudly that you can’t sleep. It’s sitting in bed asking yourself why you keep doing this, why you can’t just be “normal”, why you feel like nothing is worth it. It’s your head telling you to just give up but your heart telling you there’s got to be more to everything than this.

Depression is driving to work and thinking that all it would take would be one jerk of the hand and everything would be over. It’s looking over the edge of something tall and telling yourself that with one step everything will finally start making sense. It’s staring at a blade, moving it towards you, and thinking that a quick slice and you’ll finally be free. It’s wanting to die because you feel like it’s your only option, because you just want everything to stop.

Depression is the words that echo in your head: Freak. Useless. Worthless. You’ll never make it. Who could ever love you? You’re so weird. Nerd. Why are you even here? It’s your belief in yourself crumbling in the face of a tidal wave of harsh words; when you have no other choice but to believe them since you’ve heard them so much. It’s wanting to scream but holding it all inside because if you let it out you won’t be able to put yourself back together again. Wanting so desperately to prove everyone wrong but being so worn down that you just can’t force yourself to do anything.

Depression is every cut, every scratch, every slice in your skin that matches the cuts that tear apart your heart. It’s hurting so much inside that you have to cut, to scratch, just to make it bearable again. It’s begging to be numb so the pain will stop then begging to feel something, anything just so you won’t feel so unbearably empty and alone. It’s pushing everyone away so you won’t be a burden to anyone else no matter how much it hurts to do so. It’s all the “I’m fine’s” and the “don’t worry’s.”

Depression is scary; it’s ugly. It hurts and 9 times out of 10 you don’t realize how bad it is until you’re so deep in the abyss that you can’t find your way out. You don’t just “get over it”; you learn to hide it better so no one notices. But it’s not hopeless. There are things you can do to help cope with it and to help yourself be happy again. Listen to music. Write. Seek help from a therapist. Pick up new hobbies.

But most importantly: find a reason to want to live again. Find a person, objects, ideas…..anything that gives you a reason to smile, to make things bearable again. Always remember that no matter how bad things may seem, you’re never alone and you have people who care for you. No matter how much you may try to convince yourself otherwise, you matter. You might even be someone else’s reason to live.

Nothing in this world is worth your life; remember that.

~ Jordan

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